BY MAIRE O’NEILL
A Preliminary Screening Plan (PSP) for Middle DP Road Site where contaminated materials were found on three occasions since last February has been submitted to the New Mexico Environment Department, Los Alamos County Manager Harry Burgess reported to Council Tuesday evening during his report.
Burgess said the newly-installed sewer lift station is now operational and taking sewage waste from all previously connected sites with just Los Alamos Fire Department Station 2 to be connected once the Canyon Walk apartment complex is operational. He noted that the Department of Energy NNSA and Environmental Management are grateful to heat that.
“They obviously contributed significantly to our ability to get that done in the timeframe with the challenges we were facing,” he said.
Burgess said NNSA has delegated the Middle DP Road site work to EM and that the PSP was submitted to NMED in the latter weeks of December.
“NMED is reviewing it and will provide comments after which time depending on the comments it will be revised or implemented to begin a process of evaluating the contamination at that site. I mention all of this because in prior months we had expressed some desires and concerns about the ongoing construction of housing on DP Road – particularly the adjacent site which is known as The Bluffs and will be for senior housing – that they need to be constructed by their grant by the end of this calendar year. Our expression to NNSA and EM and NMED altogether, was let’s think about that now so that we don’t find ourselves a year from now trying to accomplish cleanup while there are people living 20 feet away from that project, and if at all possible to move forward with that cleanup at present and avoid that type of a conflict.”
He said in reviewing the screening plan, it appears EM took some of that to heart because the plan is for them to initially excavate the four known contaminated sites and determine the extent of the contamination “which means they will keep digging until they find no more contamination”.
“Dependent on whether they find a very sizeable deposit such as an additional Material Disposal Area – unless they find something of that magnitude they intend to actually excavate and remove the known materials as they do their screening plan, thereby accomplishing both of those goals. There is a potential that at the end of their screening plan at least the known materials are removed,” Burgess said. “I think the concern obviously is that they discover additional materials as they do other potholes – that they have other concerns we don’t yet know of.”
He said he wanted to convey to Council that the PSP incorporated some of the County’s comments.
“I did appreciate the fact that at least for what is known today, the anticipated activities will remove that known material. Then we’ll learn more through the other excavations. They were very appreciative of the fact that on The Bluffs property currently it has already been conveyed to the developer so it’s privately owned however, EM did work with the developer to get on their site and do 16 additional potholes to the other work they had performed on the site in recent months as well as prior studies of that site and they found no additional contamination in any of those potholes. So that was a very positive message for The Bluffs,” he said.
Burgess said EM got a plus up of their budget of $6 million and that he asked them if that increase was specifically for DP Road. The EM response was that $1 million last year and $9 million this year had been found within the DOE budget and that accomplishing the PSP as it exists today is fully funded. Burgess said the increase in the EM budget was sought by EM to address the known RDX contamination in the southern part of the Los Alamos National Laboratory property.